Parks Canada

Parks Canada

July 06, 2010 15:07 ET

Government of Canada Recognizes the National Historical Significance of Abraham Albert Heaps and Israel Isaac Kahanovitch

Two important Canadian Jews are celebrated

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - July 6, 2010) - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today celebrated the national historic significance of Abraham Albert Heaps and Israel Isaac Kahanovitch, who were designated as national historic persons for their contribution to the Canadian Jewish community.

"Rabbi Kahanovitch's efforts in providing for the needs of a diverse and growing Jewish community in Canada along with A. A. Heaps' role in representing Jewish concerns in Parliament in a time of political and social unrest are truly remarkable," said Minister Prentice. "I am truly pleased to announce that both these great individuals have now been formally recognized as persons of national historic significance for the important role they played in the evolution of Canadian society."

During a career spanning almost 30 years, A. A. Heaps served as a labour activist and a prominent supporter of Jewish interests nationally. Between 1925 and 1940, he played a key parliamentary role in the introduction of social welfare legislation – especially old age pensions and unemployment insurance – that supported core Canadian values, providing a social safety net for the disadvantaged and transforming the role of the state in Canadian society. Prior to the Second World War, a time when anti-Semitic feeling was high, he kept the plight of European Jews before the public and worked in Parliament for the reform of Canadian immigration and refugee policy.

Israel Isaac Kahanovitch transcended religious and secular Jewish factions to become a community leader throughout the Prairies, encouraging the growth of Jewish educational, social and religious institutions, such as Winnipeg's Talmud Torah, for the transmission of Jewish life and faith and the betterment of his community. He fostered the unity of Canadian Jews and underscored the significance of the community's concerns through his active role in the founding of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

"The stories of Rabbi Kahanovitch and Israel Isaac Kahanovitch are fine examples of how immigrants influenced the history of Canada and helped make it the rich and diverse country it is today," said Minister Prentice. "Through their designations as national historic persons, we ensure that the many contributions of Jewish Canadians are remembered by future generations."

"The designations of A.A. Heaps and Rabbi Kahanovitch as individuals of national historic significance speak not only to their noteworthy contributions but also to the indelible impression the Winnipeg Jewish community has left on Canada's history and multicultural identity," said Daniel Stone, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Winnipeg, and President of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada.

Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada regarding the national historic significance of places, people and events that have marked Canada's history. Parks Canada manages a nation-wide network of national historic sites that make up the rich tapestry of Canada's cultural heritage and which offers visitors the opportunity for real and inspiring discoveries.

For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at under Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Parks Canada
    Media Relations
    National Corporate Communications Branch